Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feis Doubleheader -- St. Louis Irish Arts and Winterfeis

Sorry for the delay in posting, but I was sick earlier in the week. On the bright side, the worst of it was on Tuesday, which is the day SyFy network runs a lot of Star Trek reruns, so that worked out well for languishing on the couch.

February always brings the St. Louis Irish Arts Feis to the Ballpark Hilton. And sometime in the past year or so it occurred to someone at Graham that the SLIA Feis was on President's Day weekend, President's Day is a day off for a lot of people, and wouldn't it be clever to run a feis on Sunday at the same hotel so that people could compete in 2 feiseanna for their travel time/dollar. Thus was born the St. Louis Winterfeis. (Full disclosure: Graham then merged with Clarkson, so to a certain extent this became our school's feis, but it was mostly the former Graham people running it, so I'm calling it a Graham feis.)

Things that were the same about both feiseanna:

Same hotel with same setup as to location of concessions and vendors.

Same stages, with our kids in Novice and Open assigned to the same stages both days.

Many of the same judges and musicians.

Cool feis tshirt available both days:

SLIA feis started at 8:30am on Saturday. SLIA has a history of interesting feiseanna (ahem), so we were interested to see how this would work out for us given that 3 days after I submitted our payment for competition we found out that Annabeth had a Mary Poppins rehearsal from 12:30 to 3pm that same day. It was entirely possible that she could make it through all of her soft shoe competition before leaving for the rehearsal, but, this being SLIA, we figured it would be improbable. And, indeed, she danced reel, lined up to dance slip jig (after several other slip jigs had danced), waited around, then was told she was dismissed for lunch at about 11:20, meaning that by the time the lunch break was over and they got reorganized for her competition she'd have to leave for rehearsal. So very annoying. So very typical of this feis.

The main problem was that we were on the stage with ALL of the First Feis and Beginner 1 competitions. Of course, this had some entertainment value (the little kids in First Feis are amazingly cute, wandering off stage to talk to friends right in the middle of the competition), but also took FOREVER.

After Annabeth left with Rick, I headed over to Thalia's stage, which had completed all soft shoe before lunch, and had been working their way through Treble Jig. Thalia's stages were in the Archview Ballroom. The last time we were in this ballroom the picture windows had been behind us and the stages against the opposite wall. This time the stages were against the windows, which yielded an amazing view

but was fairly glare-ish for viewing dancing.

I have no idea if the judges had problems with seeing what the heck was going on. The judges were rotated fairly often, so perhaps that helped. Oddly, Thalia was also rotated between group A and group B with every dance (I had assumed these things were decided by birthdate, but maybe they draw numbers out of a hat to decide who's in which group for which dance). That was sort of fiddly to keep track of. Overall, though, things in this ballroom proceeded smoothly (not to mention the higher quality of gossip obtainable from the other spectators); Thalia was done dancing by about 2:20pm and we headed down to results, not knowing what to expect after last year's result's room mayhem. But, WOW, they were using the feisworx computerized system, so it was just a matter of presenting the dancer's competition number and quickly, easily picking up the appropriate award. We were out of the building by 2:50pm. We figured Annabeth's stage was still on Hornpipe at that point.

Overall I'd have to say that SLIA feis has gotten better through the years, although they still have some areas for improvement. I think they had higher numbers of competitors this year than usual due to the double feis lineup, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Even though Annabeth only managed to dance one dance, she did get a 3rd in it; as her teacher pointed out, that was 100% of her dances.

The next day's Winterfeis started at 8am -- earlier start because Graham was totally focussed on getting through the day EARLY so people could make it home Sunday night. Our competitions (Novice and Open) were in the same rooms, but the Beginners were spread out more equitably (no clue on First Feis -- I think most of those were on Saturday, because once you dance in your first feis you're a beginner). This time the picture windows in Thalia's room had a scrim over them in the morning, although they raised it in the afternoon. Other than that, we were sitting in the same seats in the same place doing the same thing for the second day in a row.

Annabeth did her own poof, though, and thought it looked better:

I did hear people complain that they wished there was more room to put their stuff (dress bags, wig cases, etc. etc.) in the stage 3/4 ballroom, which was the same one we were in for last fall's Graham feis -- I pointed out to them that there was a large area across the hall that could be used to dump extra stuff and still have room for kids to practice (it's that big hallway with the baby grand piano and the elevators -- I keep thinking there should be restrooms and a drinking fountain back there, but I've yet to find them).

At about 1:15 Rick came over to our stage to watch Annabeth dance, but we were packing up our stuff, totally finished with all dances, they were running Treble Reels and announcing that they were swinging some PC competitions to that stage so they could zip through them more quickly (aren't PC stages usually bigger, though? No clue if that was an issue at all). We all tromped over to Thalia's stage, watched Traditional Sets, went to get tshirts and results while Rick finished watching the Purdue basketball game on his laptop (if you were there, he was the one who yelled during a lull in the dance competitions because someone missed a layup during the game). We were home by 2:30, once again skipping the Treble Reel competition.

Again, the Feisworx computer system was used for results. The feis had run out of the 4th place ribbons, so they started giving out the 3rd place medals in their place. Cool medals -- quarter included in the picture so you can see how big they were:

This turned out to be a good weekend of feissing. I hope they (we?) do this again next year. Our results were mediocre, but both feiseanna had a lot of competitors, and the competition was pretty good because of it.


Trish said...

YAY! I have been waiting for your recap. I love it! Once again, you are dead-on. We actually liked the SLIA one better, it was Cam's first feis in PC and the stage ran so smooth and quick (plus she placed!). On Sunday, the stage was slick and several dancers fell. The dances were done out-of-order and it was very confusing. I do like doing back-to-back feises but they really knocked me out.. I still haven't recovered. The reel t-shirts were so cute.

Gail said...

Trish, I almost included something like "the BEST thing about the SLIA feis was the U12 PC results" because it was so exciting!

And I was disappointed to not have a repeat (or better) on Sunday. Wow, what a shame about the stage being slick -- I wonder what happened.

Ami said...

I'm always grateful that you include a gratuitous wig shot just for me.


Bridgett said...

The dances on Sunday were oddly out of order. Sophia had her hornpipe followed by single jig (and then back to treble jig).

I swore off SLIA's feis after last year. But maybe next year. Maybe. Sophia handles them better now. I was glad to only do the one, though.

Gail said...

Bridgett, we were sitting with a girl Sunday who had dances in both Novice and Beg.2, and the same type of thing happened to her -- she kept having to switch shoes back and forth. Is that what happened to you? The Novice/Open dances were coordinated with each other, though.

Bridgett said...

That's exactly it. If Sophia had been all novice or all Beg II, it would have gone in order. She is 4 in Novice and 3 in Beg II and so it was a lot of shoe changes. And waiting.